DEAR JERRY: What a surprise it was to find a Don Drysdale 45, and even with a picture sleeve. I knew immediately he was the same guy who was once a great pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but I never imagined him as a singer.
The A-side, “Give Her Love” (Reprise R-20162), is a pretty good song, and I'm wondering if it became a hit, especially in the L.A. area.
Was he in his baseball prime when he made this record?
I saw a “Give Her Love” on eBay, but it is by the group Love Committee. Is it the same song as Don Drysdale's? Was the one he sang ever a hit by anyone else?
Darla Hotchkins, Marysville, Calif.
DEAR DARLA: In the order asked, here are the answers:
Issued in 1963, “Give Her Love” may have gotten some spins in L.A. radio market because Drysdale was so well-known, but it did not make any of the local charts. I personally never heard it on the radio, and I lived there throughout 1963, and was even a Dodgers fan.
Of Don's 14 seasons in MLB, all with the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, 1962 was one for the ages. He won 25 games and the Cy Young Award; pitched 314 innings in 41 games, had 232 strikeouts, and led the majors in all of these categories. Yeah, he was absolutely in his prime.
The disco-oriented Love Committee's “Give Her Love” (1978) is an entirely different song. It's a pretty good tune, but another one that didn't chart. This committee is best remembered for “Heaven Only Knows” (1976).
“Big D” was the second person to record this song. It was written in 1961 by James K. Harbert as “Give Him Love,” and promptly recorded by Nancy Wilson (Capitol 4558). That too failed to chart.
Another song, different but with the same title, came out in late 1970 by Patti Page (Mercury 73162), and it became a Top 40 Country hit.
Interestingly, Frank Sinatra's Reprise label signed Drysdale to record “Give Her Love,” then in 1966, Sinatra's own version of “Give Her Love” appeared on his million-selling album, “That's Life” (Reprise 1020).
DEAR JERRY: I have what amounts to a scrapbook of hundreds of your columns, including one dated April 1, 1987. And this is no April Fool's joke.
I saved this one because I am a big fan of Jerry Fuller's late 1950s and early '60s music, and he was one of your topics that week.
Todd Mariano, of Youngstown, Ohio, wrote to ask if a CD collection of Fuller's tunes existed. You replied no, then added “When someone finally decides to release a Best of Jerry Fuller, here are what I feel are some must-have tracks: “Betty My Angel”; Tennessee Waltz; “Shy Away”; “Guilty of Loving You”; “First Love Never Dies”; “Hollywood Star”; “Double Life”; and “I Only Came to Dance with You.” With these tunes, you are assured one great Jerry Fuller collection.”
In the 25 years since, has anyone taken your advice?
Marsha Mills, St. Paul, Minn.
DEAR MARSHA: Yes, but they didn't exactly jump right on it.
You might also recall I spoke to Jerry (strangely, he was doing the same thing at the time) and he provided a contact at Sony Music, who I called and made my feelings known about the need for a Challenge anthology for Fuller.
Not only did nothing come of that, but it took until 2008 for someone to get the message. For that, we have Ace Records, a UK label to thank even though Jerry's recordings were not hits in Britain.
Ace is one of several prolific European labels specializing in artists and songs seemingly ignored by the American companies.
Still in print and available for around $20 is “A Double Life - The Challenge Recordings 1959-1966” (Ace 03502).
It's nice to see that among the 24 tracks are all of those I deemed essential.
IZ ZAT SO? Apart from his singing career, Jerry Fuller is credited with discovering, among others, Gary Puckett & the Union Gap, Mac Davis, the Knickerbockers, and Collin Raye.
An established writer of hit songs, here are some he wrote for three well-known artists:
Rick Nelson: “Travelin' Man”; “A Wonder Like You”; “Young World”; “That's All She Wrote”; and “It's Up to You.”
Gary Puckett and the Union Gap: “Young Girl”; “Lady Willpower”; and “Over You.”
Al Wilson: “Show and Tell” and “Touch and Go.”